Sucré, Metairie, La./New Orleans

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There’s no doubt about it: New Orleans knows how to do sweets correctly. After all, the Crescent City boasts some amazing pralines, blending nuts in with the chocolate and brown sugar candy to create a sweet treat that’s perfect on the go. It’s home to beignets with cafe au lait, which is simply incredible. New Orleans has given us bananas foster, mixing bananas, ice cream and alcohol to create an outstanding dessert, and its bread pudding is second to none. Put simply, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll find a way to satisfy it in the Big Easy.

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Ironically, though, before 2007, the only places to satisfy it were at full service restaurants or in small shops. Cafe du Monde was the only place that served nothing but a sweet treat, but a beignet is closer to a doughnut than a dessert if you want to get technical. Besides, the fact that it was open 24 hours a day and had coffee and cafe au lait available made it more of a cafe than a dessert shop. It seemed like every great restaurant serves bananas foster as an option after Brennan’s created the dish, but it’s always the finish to the meal, not the entire experience.

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And then Sucré came along, becoming New Orleans’ first dessert-only restaurant in 2007 when it opened shop in the Magazine District. The name is absolutely perfect for the Pelican State’s largest city, because Sucré is literally French for “sugar”. Whether it’s macarons, cupcakes, artisanal chocolates or ice cream, Sucré is all about serving the sweet stuff and doing it in a way that looks as good as it tastes. Their philosophy from the beginning has been that they don’t do things halfway, which means that no matter what your pleasure is, they’re going to go over the top in providing it.

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One of the most obvious examples is in their famous macarons. Keep in mind, these are not the same thing as the American macaroon cookie. The macaron is a French treat, best described as a sandwich cookie that’s filled with a ganache inside the seemingly tougher exterior. It almost dissolves upon being bitten into, with the interior revealing itself to be spongy and the exterior only hard on the very edge of the outside. These are wonderful, and Sucré offers plenty of varieties. In fact, the store offers enough variety to offer a Macaron of the Month club, which will ship a box of 15 macarons to your door every month for a cool $525. If you can afford it, you’ll be treated to flavors like double dark chocolate, peaches and cream, lavender and white chocolate and candy cane, just to name a few possibilities.

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Of course, Amy and I had to find out what makes the macaron so special for ourselves, so we opted for the strawberry and dipped chocolate versions. These things are so light and airy that it’s honestly a wonder how they even keep their shape. The taste is fantastic, and the brightly colored macarons are very aesthetically pleasing, stimulating multiple senses at once. In the case of the chocolate dipped macaron, there’s little that can be done on a dark brown surface…so Sucré opted to class it up by adding a touch of edible gold. Of course, edible gold doesn’t add anything in the taste department, it’s just there to make things look a little higher class. Every time it’s there, it does its job. This might be the one ingredient where taste is truly irrelevant. The chocolate, though, is incredible, exactly what you would expect to find in a high-class sweet shop.

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But the area where Sucré really shines are with its incredible gelato sundaes. Usually, gelato is meant to star on its own, but you don’t land yourself a reputation by doing things the traditional way in a foodie haven like New Orleans. Granted, Sucré’s gelato flavors are probably good enough to get away with doing it the traditional way, as they boast flavors like banana cream pie, chocolate cherry, peanut butter crunch, lemon curd, Tahitian vanilla and the New Orleans favorite, cafe au lait. All of them are made with locally based milk and sweetened with pure Louisiana cane sugar, so even though it’s by no means healthy, at least it has the local connection going for it, which is always a good thing.

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As good as those flavors would be on their own (and Sucré does allow samples), Sucré decides to go for the ultimate wow factor with its ice cream creations by attempting to pack as many flavors as possible into one dish with its main ice cream options. The most obvious is the gelato po boy, which includes chocolate, vanilla and strawberry gelato between two pastries, looking very much like the sandwich New Orleans made famous. In more traditional form, Sucré boasts six different sundaes, and even runs a program aimed at those Crescent City locals who can’t decide what they want. Basically, if you order all six, you get a free one on your seventh visit, which I guess is a way for you to declare which of the six you liked best. It’s certainly a cool way to reward your customers.

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Seeing as how Amy and I unfortunately don’t live in the Southeast, trying all six wasn’t going to be an option for us. The options we left on the table included the Caribe (mango and coconut basil sorbet, cocoa bits, mixed berry sauce, toasted coconut and a strawberry macaron), the Americana (vanilla and strawberry gelato with sponge cake and mixed berry sauce), Gimme Smore (vanilla gelato with chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallow, basically my father’s nightmare because of his marshmallow allergy), and the Citron Nut (pistachio and lemon curd gelato with sponge cake, blueberries and a macaron). All of those options sound like they could be pretty amazing, which gives you an idea of how appetizing our two choices were.

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Amy, who loves all things chocolate, opted for the Sucré Sundae. Usually, the item named after the restaurant itself isn’t the must-try item, because it’s designed to offend no one and ends up pleasing no one. But that’s not always the case, and Sucré proves itself another exception to the rule by packing all things chocolate into its namesake sundae. This features triple dark chocolate gelato, chocolate sauce, cocoa bits, chocolate croutons, which are essentially brownie bits, plus whipped cream and caramel sauce just to prevent chocolate overload. Of course, because there just wouldn’t be enough chocolate without it, it’s topped with a chocolate macaron.

It’s simply outstanding. This is an incredibly rich sundae, with the dark chocolate gelato providing the perfect mix of sweet sugar and bitter cocoa for an amazing meld on a surface that almost looks like light would have trouble escaping. This sundae is all chocolate, all the time, and it’s really, really high quality chocolate. This is the kind of chocolate taste you’d expect to find in a specialty store, smooth, rich and delicious.

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While Amy went for all things chocolate, I opted for All Things NOLA. Sucré’s final sundae took top billing for Louisiana in Food Network’s 50 States, 50 Ice Creams list, and it’s easy to see why this is the Pelican State’s best, because it melds the two desserts New Orleans has made famous: bread pudding and bananas foster (as we’ve established before, as sweet as they are, beignets don’t count as a dessert, although throwing a beignet into this sundae would be pretty awesome). Bananas foster comes in the form of the sauce, while pieces of bread pudding are blended into brown butter pecan gelato. Whipped cream and caramel are added to finish it off, plus a small square of chocolate.

Wow, was this amazing. I absolutely LOVE butter pecan flavor, and this flavor with the bread pudding and bananas foster sauce was intense beyond belief. It’s incredibly rich and super sweet, so much so that water is pretty much a requirement to prevent sweetness overload. The butter pecan flavor works so beautifully with the bananas foster flavored sauce, and the bits of bread pudding are moist and delicious. It really does feel like the culmination of what makes New Orleans such an experience.

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That doesn’t even include the artisan chocolates, which look absolutely divine, much like those of famed chocolatier Christopher Elbow in Kansas City. If they taste anything like his, and there’s no reason to assume otherwise, they’d also be a worthwhile experience. Basically, if you have any kind of taste for sugar, you’re going to find something to enjoy here. On the food scene in New Orleans, you’ve got to be special to stand out, and Sucré has definitely managed to achieve that rarefied air.

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Recap

Time to go: Early or late, as Sucré opens at 8 a.m. and closes at midnight in both locations. You can also order the macarons online, as Amy has done.

Wait during my visit: None. We were at the Metairie location, and that’s not going to get packed as easily as the city will.

Location: Sucré has two locations, one at 3025 Magazine Street in the Garden District of New Orleans and one at 3301 Veterans Boulevard in the suburb of Metairie, La.

Cost: Sundaes do not come cheap, clocking in at $7, but given what you get, it’s not bad.

Parking: Depends on which location you’re going to. If you’re in Metairie, parking is plentiful. Sucré is by a mall, so you’ll have almost an infinite amount of spaces. In the city, good luck. You’ll either have to mess with the St. Charles Streetcar (and if you don’t know by now, the New Orleans Streetcar system is AWFUL if you’re trying to go anywhere besides Canal Street) and walk three blocks south to Magazine Street, or you’ll have to drive down Magazine and hope to get lucky with street parking.

Seating arrangement: Tables and chairs, with outside options.

Website: Sucré

Specialty items: Macarons, sundaes, chocolate

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Sucré on Urbanspoon

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About nighthawk2005

A hungry guy in the land of the Hawkeye discovers America's best restaurants for himself.

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